General Question

jlm11f's avatar

Would you support a fat tax for airplane seats?

Asked by jlm11f (12340 points ) June 28th, 2009

Why or why not? Airplanes are considering asking people who tend to spill over on other seats due to their size to pay for an extra seat. source + extra info

PS – Did you know that a group called National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance existed?
PPS – Can you actually believe they were considering asking for money to use the toilet on the plane??? WTF?

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74 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

I believe all seats should be sold according to weight, just as luggage should be charged. No need for discrimination in any way.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Yes. I fly several times a year and cringe every time I’ve got a seat next to a huge person who scowls at me as though it’s their gawd given right to push over onto me just because I’m small. I try to book aisle seats in order to be able to get up easily for the restroom and to have some breathing room since most people anymore are big so it’s extra annoying for them to ask me to give up my aisle seat so they don’t feel so claustrophobic because they’re big. I mean c’mon! I’m trying to get breathing room from the big whales because I make a lifelong conscious effort not to grow into one? Fark that noise.

SirBailey's avatar

@YARNLADY, and you don’t see THAT as descrimination?

And I say definitely NO. The airlines are constantly shrinking the size of the seat in order to make more money. Allowing them to say 300 pounds is a two seat size today means 180 pounds will do it tomorrow.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

This situation can be fixed by making all the seats wider.
That makes plane travel more comfortable for everyone in all circumstance. Airplane seats are small even for people of average weight and size.

It’s unfair for people of generous girth because the seats are small and it’s unfair for the neighboring passenger such as @hungryhungryhortence who has to be pressed up against the window because someone is physically pushing them that direction.

Make plane seats larger, and this problem goes away.

We can address the epidemic state of American obesity in another question.

juwhite1's avatar

I would not support a “fat tax” but I would certainly support airlines providing different sized seats for different prices. I’m sure overweight people would be willing to pay a bit more for a seat that was more suited to their proportions, and skinny people would gladly take a discount for a seat that was a little smaller.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@SirBailey: aside from my grandfather who was 7’2” and a few athletes, I’ve never seen a 300lb person who wasn’t morbidly obese. It’s not fair everyone else has to suffer because of one person the size of three.

YARNLADY's avatar

@SirBailey Treating everyone exactly the same way, i.e. charging everyone by weight, is the opposite of discrimination.

TheWatcher's avatar

Ok that’s stupid….next were gonna hear about a seating qualification for either front of plane or coach. Better yet wieght limit for passengers on plane…..this world is messed up .

Response moderated
SirBailey's avatar

@YARNLADY, no, it’s not. It discriminates against the obese person. When all races got the same IQ test in schools, was it NOT discriminatory against the minorities?

ragingloli's avatar

this problem could easily be solved by letting the large people travel as cargo.

YARNLADY's avatar

@TheWatcher @SirBailey I never heard of anyone complaining because when I buy fabric to make some clothes, I have to pay more for the ‘extra’ required to make size 18 than a woman who is size 8. Paying for what you use, especially in an airplane, is the normal. If you go to a restaurant and you order two drinks, you will pay more than the person who only orders one. Why is it wrong that people should pay for the room they use up, and the resources (fuel)?

TheWatcher's avatar

Wow you know if Santa clause can fly through the air with a big bag of presents and all that blubber on him, all by himself without his reindeers complaining about the load, I’m sure a metal airplane, going at like 5000 miles an hour 20000 feet in the air filled with fat people can manage too. I mean we accept an overloaded present sliegh to fly out at night, but we don’t let fat guys fly?

TheWatcher's avatar

Ignore what I said I have no idea what I just wrote LOL.

Randy's avatar

I think it’s a great idea. I’m in the small people group though. Although I’ve never flown, I can tell you that if someone was invading my space in my already stressful situation, I would literally freak the fuck out. I’m scared of heights and I do not want you in my space, especially if I do not know you. To be honest, I would rather be stuck in a car for twelve hours then to have to be squished by someone twice my size for twenty minutes. I agree with @YARNLADY and @juwhite1. Either of those seem like good ways to fix the problem.

SirBailey's avatar

@YARNLADY, then why stop with airplanes? Let’s charge overweight people more for seats in EVERY public transportation situation. Let’s charge them more for movie seats, barber chairs, Disneyworld (that is ACTIVELY making sure its rides have large enough seats now), everything?

NOT TO MENTION, let’s charge those wheel chair bound people an arm and a leg! Look at that excess weight! That inconvenience?? Wouldn’t that be good?

TheWatcher's avatar

True, besides there are other problems apart from fat taxes, I heard something going around about taxing babies who tend to bawl their lungs out during flights…I mean wth?!

elijah's avatar

I think any sort of seat (airplane, movies, concert, etc) that is used by someone who can’t fit into it without hanging over into my seat should have to buy 2. At this one theater I go to the armrests lift so if someone is larger or if two people want to snuggle they can fit comfortably. I’m not trying to discriminate, it’s just common sense. Anyone sitting deserves comfort including the small person who paid for a whole seat and has to smoosh into half a seat because of the person next to them.

TheWatcher's avatar

Well obescity is a rapidly growing problem in the united states…..

SuperMouse's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic presents the perfect solution to the problem of girth on airplanes. This type of tax is discriminatory and personally I would like to see the world moving away from discrimination, not creating more.

TheWatcher's avatar

Let’s see:
Mexicans
Illigal aliens
African-Americans
Arabs
Other races that are not white
Yes we do see to many discrimination in the world

elijah's avatar

To answer the actual question I do not support a fat tax, but I do support paying for the seat(s) you will be in. By making the seats larger instead of selling two would only result in everyone paying more per seat. The airline will never take the loss of money caused by less seats. The cost just gets passed on to us.

TheWatcher's avatar

No fat tax. I mean if the president were fat, and he went on a normal flight, would he have to pay a fat tax? O_o?

Randy's avatar

@TheWatcher Yeah! The president is a person too. Of course, with that job you get the perk of your very own, very comfortable (I’m sure) airplane.

augustlan's avatar

[mod says] Let’s stick to the topic at hand, and stop posting nonsensical things. Thanks.

I’m watching you, Watcher.

TheWatcher's avatar

Nonsensical? This whole issue on fat taxes and what not is nonsensical, I reserve my right to speak what I deem fit. By the first amendment if our constitution.

augustlan's avatar

@TheWatcher This is not a democracy, it is a privately owned website with guidelines. Take a look at them, please.

YARNLADY's avatar

If people would stop calling it a Fat Tax, and yelling discrimination, it would make perfect sense. Airplane operation costs are based almost solely on weight and room. I already pay more for clothes in the Plus sizes, and I would fully expect to pay more for using up more resources. It could be said that those of us who eat more are also discriminated against, because our grocery bill is higher, and our medical bills are higher. What you are asking for is to subsidize my food and clothes in addition to my air fare.

TheWatcher's avatar

Understood, but if you complain about me speaking what I think, and it is related to the topic, then I see this as a commi site.

juwhite1's avatar

@TheWatcher – no one is forcing you to participate. The mods are just trying to keep things friendly and helpful.

Randy's avatar

@TheWatcher You can leave our “commi” site if you want. Nobody is begging you to stay…

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

apology for calling obese people big whales
However, I am going to be very sexist now and add in my experience of lifelong frequent flying that I’ve never had an obese woman be the pushy seat mate.

TheWatcher's avatar

I understand. But what I’m saying is I think I touched a nerve when I brought up mention of the prez. Other then that I try to be a nice guy.

jlm11f's avatar

[mod says:] This has nothing to do with you bringing up the president. Please type coherently and spell correctly. Do not go off topic. And most importantly, if you have concerns about this moderation decision or would like to discuss it further, please PM @augustlan instead of discussing it on this thread. Thank you.

[OP says:] Thank you for the great responses everyone! Looking forward to reading more opinions about this question.

TheWatcher's avatar

Right, anyway I actually have a personal experience involving a fat man and a movie theater.

eponymoushipster's avatar

How about we charge fat people to use Fluther, but skinny people get to keep using it for free?

Also, who would determine what “fat” is? The national health guidelines? Unlikely, since it doesn’t take into consideration all body types.

To charge extra for something like that is ridiculous. It opens the doors to all kinds of other discrimination.

Better yet, let’s charge old people more money because they’re more likely to cause accidents, die suddenly, etc. Does that sound reasonable?

TheWatcher's avatar

This person buys a ticket, goes to take a seat in the front, the usher comes in, tells him he is only allowed to sit in the back rows, and if he wanted to sit up front he’d have to pay for an additional ticket. Basicly the guy was counted as two people.

EmpressPixie's avatar

No—I support the current system wherein if you are simply too large to fit into one seat you must buy an appropriate number of seats. Not all airlines do it, but in general I support it. I believe they should have a spelled out test for it that passengers may insist upon. So in a sense, yes, I believe there should be an extra seat “fat tax”, but that is merely for the comfort of the passengers—it is just not fair or right for someone to be forced into giving up much of their personal space because the person beside them happens to be very, very, very large.

elijah's avatar

@eponymoushipster using fluther does not take up physical space. Seats do.
you can sit on my lap if you would like
And to edit- insurance rates are adjusted based on age.

YARNLADY's avatar

@eponymoushipster I take it you don’t have to pay insurance premiums for a young driver, or an old one. We already pay more for insurance based on the actuarial tables that show more risk in those two groups, in other words based on their excessive use of resources.

SirBailey's avatar

And again, I bring up wheel chair bound people. Wouldn’t the “fat tax” logic apply to them? They take up room. Seeing eye dogs – hey! Now that’s a money maker! I’ll answer my own question. Space is allotted for wheelchairs. So the fact that space is NOT allotted for obese people is the PERSON’S fault?? There is an ignorant misconception here that all an obese person has to do is WANT to lose weight and they will. Sure. Some can. But do you seriously think that those people who undergo bariatric surgery do it because it’s a “nothing” procedure? Do you know how much risk that procedure is? And, after having it done, they gain it back. Do you think this is a will power issue? Why single out those who have this disease and no other?

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

@SirBailey: I see wheelchair bound people brought onto planes all the time and none of them has been in need of an extra seat. Never seen a seeing eye dog on the plane though, not yet.

YARNLADY's avatar

@SirBailey Why, you ask, let me repeat myself – the cost of operating an airplane is based solely on the fuel consumption and the space requirements. The related expenses, such as salaries and maintenance are overhead expenses, not direct operation costs.

SirBailey's avatar

I won’t repeat MYSELF. What I’ve said above applies to your argument. Wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, seeing eye dogs…. all affect fuel consumption and space requirements. At this point, I’ve said all I want to say on this. Thanks.

YARNLADY's avatar

@SirBailey Ok, but I don’t know where you got the idea that those things are not charged extra, as well.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@elijah or, you on mine. ;)

@YARNLADY sure, we all pay insurance. but why not on airplanes? look, that captain died midflight. what’s to say anyone else 60+ wouldn’t keel over midflight? or on trains? or in a movie theatre? or in a restaurant? in any of those cases, the poor press, clean-up, recompensation of the other people in the plane/car/theatre/restaurant, etc cost the given business money.

Darwin's avatar

Personally, I think that anyone who yells at an airline employee, gets on a plane already drunk, or who an asshole in general should have to pay more so they can be put in an isolation booth.

And if they do impose a fat tax, where is the cut off? 300 pounds spread over a 6’ 6” frame is a lot different than 300 pounds bunched up on a 5’ 5” frame. And what about folks who need more leg room and so lean their seat back up under someone else’s nose the entire flight?

Where do we stop?

casheroo's avatar

@Darwin I hate those people. They have no consideration for those behind them.

I’m torn on this…because I think it’s crazy that little kids have to pay full price for tickets, and I also think it’s crazy I have to pay to check luggage. But, I also dislike when people push onto my seat, and make me feel guilty for using my arm rest. I don’t think a fat tax would be appropriate. Something needs to be done though.

benjaminlevi's avatar

It depends if they are promising you one seat, or transportation across to your destination. If your ticket entitles you to “one seat” then fat people would have to buy two if they took up two much room. If your ticket entitles you to “transportation to your destination” they have to give you as many seats as you need.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I believe all seats on an airplane should be large enough to fly in comfort, instead of packed in like sardines. Not just overweight people need more room; people flying with infants and toddlers, do too. So do businessmen trying to work on a laptop.

breedmitch's avatar

Charging by weight (can you imagine the horror of having to be weighed before boarding) is discriminatory. Men as a gender tend to weigh more than women do; it is discrimination based on gender.
How it’s handled now is best: delicately and with as much tact as possible.
I recently witnessed a person of size face this very situation. Before boarding the plane, he was taken on to see if he could fit comfortably. It was explained to him that is was as much for his comfort as for that of his row mates. After determining that he would not fit, it was very nicely explained that he would need to purchase another seat, but if the flight ended up not being full, he would be refunded. It ended up being full, and the airline then gave him the option of booking another flight that was less than full so that he wouldn’t have to pay double.
I was very impressed with the tact and kindness showed by the airline.
fly jetblue!

willbrawn's avatar

One thing we all have to remember. Stop conplaining about being a tad uncomfortable during a flight. Do you realize you are flying in the air? In a seat? Contributing nothing in the process. It’s a mircale. I’m glad I don’t have to trek across the country to see family and have 2 members of my party die along the way. Modern miracle if you ask me.

And to answer the question. I think everyone should be charged base on weight. If you way less like a child you save money, otherwise you pay for your lifestlyle.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@willbrawn: You are contributing your dollars/euros/pesos/whatever else to the process. Your money enables the airlines to maintain the planes, pay the crew, etc.

Even if you weren’t flying, we’ve come along way from Oregon Trail. You could drive or take the train.

breedmitch's avatar

@willbrawn: I agree. It is a modern miracle, but paying based on weight discriminates against healthy, fit people too. I’m 6’1”, healthy, in shape and quite comfortable in my airplane seat. I do not infringe on my neighbors, and yet you would like me to pay more than the petite woman two rows up?

Facade's avatar

I think it’s a good idea. It may encourage those who have to pay the extra money to lose weight.

Darwin's avatar

@Facade – I would guess that you have no problem with your weight as you fail to understand that most people in Western culture would lose the weight any way they could, if they could. Most obese people are very unhappy about being obese, but are not able to lose weight successfully on a permanent basis. Look at poor Kirsty Alley. She has probably lost millions by losing roles due to her weight.

I doubt that paying extra for plane tickets would help them lose the weight. However, it might make some folks refuse to fly.

Facade's avatar

@Darwin i understand. i also understand that overweight people could stand to put down the fork and pick up some weights.

Darwin's avatar

@Facade – That smacks of blind prejudice. I thought better of you than that.

willbrawn's avatar

@darwin people would lose weight if they wouldnt eat so crappy. Look at the United States we all eat fast food. Loaded with crap for nurtients. Of course people arent going to lose weight.

Losing weight takes effort.

Darwin's avatar

@willbrawn – I never said it didn’t. However, it is much more complex than simply changing what one eats, or else there would be no fat people. To think that fat people are fat because they just won’t change what they eat is a form of prejudice. Trust me, fat people do not like being fat and would change things in a heartbeat if they could.

Facade's avatar

@Darwin i dont think i was being predjudiced at all

casheroo's avatar

@willbrawn Like Darwin said, I do believe a lot more goes into losing weight than eating healthy. For my body type, if I start walking and eating better I lose weight instantly. For people like my mother, it takes very hard work and even with that, it’s a struggle. She has a thyroid issue, but eats healthy and exercises quite often. She’s losing a pound a week, which is fantastic for her, but probably minimal to others. There’s alway more to a person than just looks.

Darwin's avatar

@Facade – I beg to differ. Such statements as you made are the equivalent of equating skin color with intelligence, or height with integrity.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Stress levels, hormones and lack of sleep are big contributors, especially for women. Even if you can reduce stress and regulate sleep, it can take a year or more for your metabolism to normalize. I had long periods where I would eat at odd hours to have the carb spike to stay awake to get housework done, because I was working 60 hours a week (the norm for ad agencies.)

SirBailey's avatar

People, do you think the people who have the bariatric surgery to loose weight, very risky, very painful, with most having complications afterwards, some even become alcoholics, and many gain the weight back have the surgery if they can just watch what they eat and exercise???

filmfann's avatar

This isn’t gonna happen.
The ACLU (who I support) will say that obesity is a handicap, and the Overweight masses (pun intended) are therefore protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
FTW.

mattbrowne's avatar

No, no tax. But airlines should recommend the booking of two seats for very obese persons. Otherwise it’s unfair for the neighboring person paying for 1 seat and ending up with 1/4 seat having to lean into the aisle their heads getting hit by food carts. Ouch.

JoeCsekoBrainBuilder's avatar

Whoa, let’s make one stop at the “politically correct name station” first. How ‘bout a volume tariff?

Okay, you can tell by my photo that I’m pretty damn physically fit, but the problem with this is virtually the same as singling out any group of people.

Someone will undoubtedly scream discrimination! If some big turd can sue freakin’ McDonalds for being fat, than the sky is the limit. I honestly think that the government should get more involved in raising awareness in regards to health. This can be done through subsidies to companies that manufacture (grow, raise etc) and sell food.

Parents, learn, then educate your children!!! In many arenas, knowledge is indeed power. I was raised to be fit, and most likely would have died in 2005 had I not been in the condition I was in.

Darwin's avatar

Hey, Joe! Long time no see!

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. I think they should. With most people it is their choice by acquiescence to be fat. Granted it is harder for some to be tones and slender than others but not impossible. Those who are not thin don’t care enough to make the sacrifice or apply the extra effort to do so; same as most don’t apply the effort to be buff and muscular. The physics is what it is. Weight acts on drag and fuel consumption. A 300+ pound person is equal in weight to 2 average 170–195lb men. That is all the physics knows. They have weight Limits on elevators, no more than 1,100lb total weight etc. That means if there was standing space you could fit 8ish 125lb women in there before crashing into the basement. But you could only fit 4 280+/-lb women in there before taxing the weight limitations. People are so scared to tell fat people they need to stop being fat and just make the effort to get toned that they try to say a fat size is the new average size. You can get 100,000 people to say the smell of skunk is the new ‘It” fragrance but it will still stink. Weight wise how much extra people weight on a flight is it going to equal if you have 12, 18, 21 extra 300+ pound people in the seats? And if those pounds were actual people, those pounds would have a ticket paying for them, so why shouldn’t the fat people have to pay for using them?

Darwin's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central – You sound young. Young and naturally skinny.

Just wait – it will catch up with you one day.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Darwin ”You sound young. Young and naturally skinny.
Just wait – it will catch up with you one day.” Hardly. I am near 50 now, when I was young I could eat like a horse and not gain anything. As I got older I don’t know how much of that changed but I did get fat though it was in my mid to late 20s and I did not accept it and out ran it. If a person get caught and stay captured most of the onus is on them. When I finally could not see my toes or my Robert Earl when leaving the shower I knew I had to do something. I did not know diet from shinola plus I knew I was never going to give up cheese burgers and Chewy Chip Ahoys but I could eat smarter and get my butt moving. I are what I loved I just ate less. I started walking, just a quarter mile at 1st them ¾, then one mile and a quarter, then 3 miles. Then I hit the weights. I know it is not what you eat it is what you keep. If one can get their body to burn more calories than what they take in it is just like a checking account where you are writing checks like running water but filling your account like a trickle; you will run out of money. Then you have to have something to cover those checks, like an overdraft account. If I use up all the calories I stuffed down my gullet the body still needs fuel so it goes to the reserves, the fat cells. I know nothing about diet and the science of such but that wasn’t too hard to figure. Sure it was hard not eating 5 to 6 buttermilk pancakes slathered with butter and syrup and only having 2 silver dollar pancakes with low-fat syrup but I was willing to make that sacrifice. Too many people don’t want to sacrifice and they don’t want to sweat then wonder why they are fat. Go figure?

RocketGuy's avatar

The heavier a plane is, the more fuel it will use. If there is a per pound fuel charge per passenger, it will be fair from a fuel use standpoint. Also charge the same for luggage by the pound. Small people and kids will be charged less, since they contribute less to fuel use. People who weigh more or bring a lot of stuff will pay more. People would bring less stuff. That would help with the carry-on situation too.

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